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Food, Spain, Wine

A Basque Culinary Experience with San Sebastian Food

Cooking with San Sebastian Food – Basque Style

To be honest, I was a little nervous.  I had signed up for an evening with San Sebastian Food to learn more about Basque cuisine.  I knew that there was a strong influence of seafood, but in all honesty, I can be a little fussy about what I eat from the ocean!

Basque cooking class at San Sebastian Food

I am not a big fan of my plate looking at me – something about my food watching me upsets my over active imagination and sends me into a guilt trip!  How was I going to cope with the assortment of fish with faces that greeted the group as we entered the kitchen?  Would the smell of all that seafood send me running from the restaurant?  I have been known to have an oversensitive nose – even when the fish is at its freshest!  With not one but 3 chefs standing before us, beaming with pride over the delicacies they were about to show us, I had to toughen up!  This is Basque Country and fish is the feature of the night!  It was time to face the fish!


I eased into it gently – a glass of wine and a few photos to mellow my concerns.  Would I really be able to touch the squid?  Would they be super slimy?  Could I do it!  Before long, I was right into it – fingers gently prodding inside the squid as I tried to remove the ink sack without bursting it.  At the fish station, we learned about squid and choosing the freshest fish at the market, as well as scaling and preparing the fish for cooking.

basque cooking lessons at San Sebastian Food


I moved on from the fish to what I consider the heart of the kitchen – the grills and stove tops.  Heady aromas of onions caramelizing on the stove, garlic in oil and the makings of a traditional Basque fish stew captured my attention.  We were making 2 classic dishes – along with the fish stew was a thick black ink sauce that would be served with the grilled calamari.  Another fish, to be served with a delectable salsa verde, was also on the grill – it was to be a feast of local cuisine!

Basque cooking class with San Sebastian Food

The kitchen was hopping with excitement as everyone got involved in the various aspects of prep and cooking.  A dash of paprika here, a slab of pork fat there, a splash of wine….dinner was coming together beautifully.  The kitchen bubbled with the smell of garlic as it hit the hot oil, the fresh ingredients dancing in the pans as cooking entered the final stages.  We finished with grilling local mushrooms for our appetizer.  Served with the yolk of an egg, these mushrooms literally melted in our mouths…the creamy warmth of the yolk, rich and oh so decadent had us all diving in for seconds.

cooking class with San Sebastian Food

With the mushrooms gobbled up, the stage had been set for dinner.  Our guide and translator showed us to our seats, and with wine for everyone, we enjoyed the fruits of our labour!

Basque culinary experience

I found it quite fascinating to watch the magic in the kitchen – how seamlessly these professional chefs pulled everything together to create such a wonderful meal with a group of food enthusiasts throwing questions at them, getting involved in the process and taking a million photos (sorry about that – it was a treat every step of the way!!!).  I will dream of having a kitchen like that at home.

Of course, location helps as the seafood is so fresh – a treat not possible for me at home!  I will just have to come back.  The experience was as amazing as the food.  Everyone had the chance to get their hands dirty as squid ink was collected for the sauce and roasted red pepper pulp was gently collected for the stew – it was obvious that there is an element of love involved in Basque cooking as the pride and passion of the chefs was clearly evident in the enthusiasm they shared in their kitchen.

Basque Culinary experience

The next morning as I walked along the beach, I was talking to some fellow tourists and describing to them the experiences of the night before.  They asked me how long the cooking class lasted and I could not remember.  I had had too much fun to notice what time we caught the boat back to the wharf at the end of the night!

For more information about the Basque Culinary Experience with San Sebastian Foods, please visit their website at:  San Sebastian Food.

(Ed note: I enjoyed the cooking experience so much, I wanted to sign up for more.  Sadly, time did not permit it.  I will have to save it for a return visit!)

About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


44 thoughts on “A Basque Culinary Experience with San Sebastian Food

  1. Looks wonderful. Yummy. Love mushrooms and love seafood! Reminds me of the food we get on the French Mediterranean –but since they are so close, there’s a reason why. What a great evening. Also, that photo of the fish at the top of the page is awesome!

    Posted by blisstravelsnews | November 14, 2012, 9:06 am
    • It was delish….I know you would have a great time there Wendy! Everything was so fresh. I could eat the food there all the time. Love the flavours and colours. The food experience is one of the things I love about travel. Playing in the kitchen certainly took it up a notch. The chefs who were walking us through the food prep were awesome – it was really a hands on course. The night was really top notch – glad I had the chance to do it.

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 19, 2012, 10:30 pm
  2. I….think I’ll pass. I’m a steak and potatoes kinda guy 😛

    The DC

    Posted by disabledcyclist | November 14, 2012, 9:27 am
  3. I had some of the best food I’ve ever had in San Sebastian! Cheers

    Posted by gringopicante | November 14, 2012, 9:39 am
    • I wouldn’t doubt it for a second! I couldn’t get enough. I already know that I will be coming back – so many Spanish people can’t be wrong!!! (Everywhere I went, the Spanish were telling me I should travel to San Sebastian – I am so glad I did. It was well worth the effort.

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 22, 2012, 1:48 pm
  4. What a great experience. This gets added to the list, for sure!

    Posted by westerner54 | November 14, 2012, 11:28 am
  5. What a Great Experience – glad you eased into it and enjoyed it! Have a Great One:)

    Posted by cravesadventure | November 14, 2012, 11:54 am
  6. That sounds amazing and delicious! Beautiful pictures.

    Posted by drawandshoot | November 14, 2012, 12:44 pm
    • It was….I only wished I had had more time. They had a wine tour that sounded extraordinary. Would love to go back for it. I did a bit of research before I went and San Sebastian Food came up consistently as a fabulous experience. So glad I was able to sign up as I left it til the last minute!

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 19, 2012, 10:34 pm
  7. Reblogged this on the Pub servation and commented:
    food is always a great benefit to travel. nice post

    Posted by dfmw | November 14, 2012, 1:00 pm
  8. I love seafood!! Definitely my kind of place 🙂

    Posted by Jodi | December 21, 2012, 11:44 am
    • They really put on a great night Jodi. If your RTW trip makes it out that way…I would recommend San Sebastian. The food was amazing. It was fun to get into the kitchen and learn some new tricks. May not have the chance to de-ink a squid too often where I am, but it was fun to try and even better to eat! I actually didn’t eat calamari before this trip…would eat it again if I could get it that fresh.

      Posted by Anita Mac | December 21, 2012, 11:56 am
  9. Wow. What an experience! I guess I would be somewhat hesitant too. But having some Basque heritage, I would feel a little more pressure to act normally around so many things I am not comfortable with (ink sack?? ewwww!!).

    Posted by ilivetotravel | May 15, 2013, 9:17 pm
    • Basque heritage – very cool! Turns out the ink sack wasn’t so wwwww….I had a tonne of trepidation about that one, but was quickly handing over my camera to get in on the action! Loved it!

      Posted by Anita Mac | May 16, 2013, 9:07 am
  10. I can’t tell you how much I miss Galician food. Used to go every three months with my parents…

    Posted by Ana Silva O'Reilly (@mrsoaroundworld) | May 16, 2013, 7:29 am
  11. What an awesome experience! This foodie is definitely jealous!

    Posted by D.J. - The World of Deej | May 16, 2013, 9:00 am
  12. yummm those mushrooms look delicious! would probably have reacted the same way about the fish though. its good to keep SOME part of the cooking to the imagination…

    Posted by Lazy Travelers (@lazytravelers) | May 16, 2013, 10:32 am
  13. I’m such a sucker for a good cooking class and subsequent post. This looks like a wonderful experience. That fish picture freaks me out a bit though. 😉

    Posted by Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) | May 19, 2013, 11:04 am
  14. i don’t really love to cook but i really did enjoy my cooking experiences in Italy this past fall. i do think it helps you to connect with the culture and appreciate the food even more!

    Posted by lola | May 19, 2013, 3:04 pm
  15. Cooking the local fish can really help you get into the sole of a plaice. (grooooaaaaan – sorry I couldn’t resist) But seriously, lovely insight and makes me want to cook my way round the world.

    Posted by Tracey | May 20, 2013, 10:40 pm
  16. Wow, now that was quite a culinary experience wasn’t it? Well I don’t eat seafood anymore thanks to my allergies 😦

    Looks had you had such a great time learning and enjoying the company!

    Travel & food & drinks are the perfect combination 😉

    Posted by Karla | May 21, 2013, 12:46 pm
    • Oh no – sea food allergies – that just isn’t right! This would not have been the night for you! I had hoped to also do a wine course that may have been better for you – but alas, I totally ran out of time!

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 19, 2013, 5:57 am
  17. What a great experience! Love the photos too. 🙂

    Posted by The World Wanderer (@TheWrldWanderer) | May 21, 2013, 8:08 pm
  18. Oh my goodness, what a feast! What a great experience too, learning from a master!

    Posted by Charli | Wanderlusters | June 17, 2013, 8:49 pm
    • Was loads of fun. It helps that I already enjoy cooking and knew that I would be recreating at home. The flavours were exquisite too….if only some of those ingredients were available so fresh from the sea where I live. Much of the fish was the catch of the day!

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 19, 2013, 5:55 am
  19. Wow, that was stellar, I would have loved taking that course and just enjoy the amazing lunch afterwards…wow! Was it expensive?

    Posted by noelmorata | June 19, 2013, 1:01 am
    • It was a little pricey, but I thought it was worth every Euro. Provided me with great entertainment for the evening and a brilliant meal with wine! I also got a recipe book to bring home of the food we cooked and a collection of Basque dishes. I would certainly do it again.

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 19, 2013, 5:54 am


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